Baraboo schools start stricter sportsmanship policies

Baraboo schools start stricter sportsmanship policies

Wednesday evening’s JV soccer match at La Follette was no different for Laura Bennett. As her son protected the Baraboo Thunderbirds’ goal, she said she just wants to protect her kids.

“I also feel that you need to hold the coaches and also the referees to the same level because I’ve seen a lot of reffing happen that turns into street ball, then injuries happen,” Bennett explained.

Her own daughter is still nursing an injury from the spring.

“You’re not calling things, and you’re letting it get out of hand because people get hurt, and that’s when the parents get upset,” Bennett said.

Her children’s school district has implemented new rules for how she and other parents can behave on the sidelines. The new code of conduct includes 10 stricter policies parents are being asked to sign off on this year.

Under the new rules, fans agree to:

– Not coach their child or other players during games or practices
– Give their child space after games, except for encouragement and praise
– Understand their athlete’s role on the team and encourage their child to perform that role to the best of his/her ability
– Refrain from undermining or spreading rumors that would destroy team morale
– Help their child enjoy the sport experience by attending as many games as possible and being a supportive fan
– Never be in possession of drugs, alcohol, tobacco products, or weapons during games
– Engage in unsportsmanlike conduct toward an official, coach, player, or parent, including “booing, taunting, or using profane or offensive language or gestures”
– Not address athletic concerns with a coach for at least 24 hours after a game
– Not post anything negative, demeaning, or derogatory on social media regarding a team, coach, or spectator
– Place the emotional or physical well-being of a child ahead of their personal desire to win

Baraboo Athletic Director Jim Langkamp said a small percentage of fans acted inappropriately to lead to the new rules, but he doesn’t see why more districts don’t have policies like this.

“We’re not any more committed than we were or always have been,” Langkamp said. “What we did is we just put our rules down in writing, and we kind of said this is what we stand for, and this is what we believe in.”

Langkamp stressed there won’t be strict policing in the stands to make sure parents abide by the new code of conduct. He said while there are particular consequences listed on the code of conduct, ranging from verbal warnings to suspension from Baraboo athletic contests, discipline will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

In addition, Langkamp hopes getting the rules out up front will create a more welcoming environment for his newer coaching staff.

“We want them to be in an environment where they feel supported and protected and all of that because we want them to be around for 10 years, 15 years and have that long career,” Langkamp said.

Nathaniel Bresson coaches the varsity boys’ soccer team at Baraboo. It’s only his second season with the team, but so far, he feels like most have been receptive to the new code of conduct.

“It’s nice to have everyone understanding right from the start, this is what we’re going to try to do, and we’ll handle it accordingly as we need to,” Bresson said.

Bennett feels the new rules are only putting up barriers between student athletes, parents, and the schools.

“It’s not the way to handle things. It’s not the way things are in life. So that’s not the way to resolve things. There has to be a better way than that,” Bennett said.

“Everything you do reflects on more than just you. It reflects on our school and our community,” Langkamp said.